Childcare

7 Ways To Prevent a Forgotten Baby Syndrome Tragedy

Any busy, working parent who’s juggling too many balls will no doubt be able to relate to forgetting something important. A work deadline or meeting, a school event, an anniversary, or maybe even registering the car.

But forgetting your own child?

It seems completely beyond comprehension, yet it is happening more and more frequently. This tragic consequence of our stretched lifestyles and increasingly busy minds has even been given a name: Forgotten Baby Syndrome.

Numerous studies have shown that our stressful, busy lives are causing more forgetfulness. Researchers have found factors such as marital problems, sleep deprivation and certain medications can affect the prefrontal cortex, which is one of the most critical parts of the brain used for multi-tasking.

forgotten baby syndrome
Forgotten baby syndrome is very real! It happens to parents more often than many realise. Source: Bigstock

This means that your brain is less likely to be able to handle multiple demands if you’re trying to juggle too many things and are feeling exhausted. Something as simple as a change to your usual routine is all it could take.

But no one ever thinks this absent-mindedness could extend to their own baby.

“That would NEVER happen to me!”

Except it does happen. To people who never expected it to. People who love their children. That’s what makes it an accident. That’s what makes it a tragedy.

So how do busy people protect themselves from such a heart-breaking catastrophe? Some might say “Slow down” and whilst, in essence, that seems like a simple solution, it’s not entirely possible in many situations.

How to prevent forgotten baby syndrome

Practical precautions are what’s needed and we have a list of suggestions with something to suit most, to prevent forgetting your baby in the car.

1. Leave your handbag, briefcase, laptop or anything you need that day with the baby in the backseat.

You’re not going to get out of the car without your handbag.

2. Leave your left shoe with the baby in the backseat.

You’re definitely not going to leave the car without your shoe!

3. Tie a ribbon to your steering wheel after you have strapped in your baby when you get in the car.

This is a good idea, but may be hard to remember and for those that are pressed for time, it may be the first thing that gets dropped.

4. If your child regularly attends childcare, make sure childcare has systems in place where they will call you. 

If your child doesn’t show up to daycare, there should be a system in place where they contact you via phone to find out why. If they cannot reach you [ie their call goes to your voicemail] then make sure they call your other contact person on the list.

5. Keep a long ribbon with a plastic curtain ring on one end tied to the harness of your child’s carseat.

When you strap them in make it a habit to hook the other end of that ribbon to the dash of your car, or the handbreak to remind you that a baby is strapped in

6. Put baby’s nappy bag on the front passenger seat.

This will serve as a visual reminder that your baby is in the back seat.

7. If you are the person who usually takes your child to childcare or a babysitter and you have asked someone else [partner, friend, relative] to do so for you on occasion, make it YOUR HABIT to call that person not long after the scheduled time to ask them how it went.

If that person has accidentally forgotten, it will mean your baby has only been left in the car for a very short and hopefully non-life-threatening amount of time.

5,000 children rescued from cars every year

Child safety advocates Kidsafe claim that more than 5,000 (yes, FIVE THOUSAND) children – mostly babies and toddlers – are rescued from hot cars in Australia every year. That’s 96 children being left inside vehicles with deathly temperatures.

If you ever see a child unattended in a car, with no parent in sight, do not hesitate to call 000 immediately.

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5 Comments

  1. Avatar of nina

    Good ideas. There are also apps being developed for this and some car companies are developing sensor technology for this issue. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than thinking of a lonely Bub slowly passing away in the back of your car, but unfortunately our crazty lives contain problems like these because we have so much on the go.

  2. Avatar of Helen

    I’ve always moved my rear view mirror downwards to see my boy for fear of forgetfulness. Also allows me to communicate directly with him

  3. Avatar of Alilu

    love the left shoe idea… who would walk around with only one shoe on! Great way to keep busy minds on track

  4. Avatar of Melanie Stewart
    Melanie StewartReply

    This is sad, but certainly relevant. Another suggestion could be to leave your mobile phone in the back, possibly in the pocket behind drivers seat. This would have the added benefit of removing a distraction from the driver.

  5. Avatar of Brad J Ozy

    Firstly in Australia it is illegal to drive barefoot. So please leave your shoes on. Buy one of those mirrors you suction cap to the window and stick directly under your rear vision mirror facing straight at your child this will remind you everytime you look in your mirror.. set alarms on your phone for just before your due to arrive.. the handbag or things you’ll need for work on the backseat is Also a great idea..

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